Few people were likely to have been as surprised by last week’s general election in Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu thought he went into the ballot from a position of strength and expected a mandate from voters, if not for him and his party, then certainly for the rightwing of the political spectrum where he is firmly rooted.

Instead, Israeli voters divided almost exactly in half, and conservatives even lost four seats from the previous Parliament. It was a stunning rebuke, and one that has potentially profound implications for Israeli society over the long term.

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